Shell

Sandy’s Impact: Opening doors in a time of need

When New York City was hit by one of the worst hurricanes in history, Shell, a long time host on Airbnb, realized that the loss for some people was devastating. As the waters rose and people had to evacuate their homes, many of them couldn’t return for days, if at all.

“After the hurricane hit, a sinking feeling hit my stomach and I thought, people are really getting stuck.”

Shell decided to go online and list her space for free for those who were in need, and as a result sparked a movement within the Airbnb community for other hosts to do the same. Soon more than 400 hosts had opened up their own homes for free, offering not only a place to sleep, but a warm connection during a very uncertain time.

“Sometimes people don’t connect that much in New York, and you can feel isolated. Inviting guests in during Hurricane Sandy brought a sense of community right into my home.”

Shell didn’t just stop there—she also led a food drive for the community right out of her kitchen. Eventually, people were able to go home again, and Shell had made their lives a little less hard.

Shell continues to host, and one of her favorite parts about it is giving people from all over the world a true local New York experience. She’s hosted over 180 guests and counting, and has since begun the ritual of a Sunday brunch tradition in which she invites her friends and guests.

Friends and guests together at Shell’s loft.

Friends and guests together at Shell’s loft.

“Food, and an international hodge-podge of friendly folks discussing life from around the globe have made Sundays the most anticipated day of the week. Turning my loft into a communal space to be shared with travelers who become friends has been the most positively life altering decision I’ve ever made. With each passing person the experience gets exponentially greater. As characters in a great novel each guest who stays seems to unfold a little more of the story. I can’t ask for a better life.”

Shell serving one of her famous brunches.

Shell serving one of her famous brunches.


Her dining room table seats 25.

Her dining room table seats 25.


The epitome of a New York brunch, with guests from around the globe.

The epitome of a New York brunch, with guests from around the globe.

Airbnb teams up with local directors and photographers to bring these stories to life. Thanks to Alice Gao for capturing this story.


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